Impact of spinal degenerative changes on the evaluation of bone mineral density with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)

Calcif Tissue Int. 1997 May;60(5):430-3. doi: 10.1007/s002239900258.


The purpose of this study is to evaluate degenerative factors in a postmenopausal patient group and differentiate the influence on bone mineral density (BMD) measurements by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The patients and methods included an investigation of 144 postmenopausal women (mean 63.3 years) with PA-DXA of the spine. Degenerative factors (osteophytes, osteochondrosis, scoliosis, and vascular calcification) were evaluated from plain lumbar radiographs, their estimated probability was analyzed as a function of age, and their influence on BMD measured by PA-DXA was determined. The results of the study revealed osteophytes in 45.8%, vascular calcifications in 24.3%, scoliosis in 22.2%, osteochondrosis in 21.5%. The estimated probability for degenerative factors increased from 35 to 80% in the 55- to 70- year age group. Osteophytes and osteochondrosis were associated with up to a 14% increase in BMD values (P < 0.001). Vascular calcifications showed a positive trend, whereas scoliosis did not show a discernible influence.We concluded that degenerative factors, except for scoliosis, showed an influence on BMD as measured by DXA. Their prevalence increased rapidly between 55 and 70 years of age. Interpretation of PA-DXA spine data for subjects of or above this age range should be complemented by plain film radiographs.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bone Density*
  • Calcinosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / epidemiology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / pathology
  • Postmenopause
  • Probability
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology